10 November, 2006

Take The Time To Be A Friend

The Internet is awesome. In the last week or so I have found friends that I have not been in contact with for years. It’s been great seeing what people are doing, how they have changed and how their kids have grown up. Over the years, I have met and become friends with people from all over the world through the net. I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of the internet. But this morning I had a chance encounter that was a hard slap in the face and caused me to re-think some things, if you will.

Let me tell you about it.

I went downtown to take care of some business and decided that since I hadn’t been there in quite awhile, I deserved a quick trip to Innkeepers coffee. I took a book in with me and thought I’d just chill out for a bit and enjoy a Mocha Valencia or two. As I ordered my coffee, a beautiful little boy with downs syndrome pulled on my pants leg and said, “What’s up mister?” I turned to him and told him that I was having a coffee and going to read for a few minutes. He asked me what I was having and when I told him his face wrinkled up and he turned to his mom and asked, “Momma, what’s mocho-mencia?” (Hey, I don’t know how to spell what he said!)

I took my coffee and retreated to the back of the coffee shop and settled in to read, only to look up a minute later to find my new friend staring at me. His mother came around the corner apologizing for his “pestering” me, but I told her that he was not a bother at all. I introduced myself and asked if it would be alright with her if her son sat with me while she got their drinks. She thanked me, and he sat across the table from me, grinning at me with the biggest grin I’ve seen in quite some time. He said, “You’re my friend!” I told him that I would love to be his friend, but friends needed to know each other’s names. He told me his name was Billy and I told him mine, but he had a difficult time pronouncing my name and was getting very frustrated. I told him it would be nice if he just called me “Pastor D”. He really got a kick out of that, and shouted out to anyone who came near, “This is my friend, Pastor D!”

When his mother came around the corner and told him to come join her, he did not want to leave my table. She came over and again apologized and took him by the hand, but he was becoming increasingly agitated, so I invited her to just join me. She thanked me and explained that she was meeting someone there to discuss something really important. Billy was getting very upset and loud, so I whispered to her that if it was OK with her, she and the person she was meeting could sit nearby and I would sit and talk with Billy while they met. She agreed to this, so Billy and I sat and talked for the next hour.

When her meeting was over, Billy’s mom came over to get him, but Billy did not want to leave. I explained to him that I really needed to go as well, and this little guy grabbed hold of me with a big hug and said, “I love you Pastor D.” His mom began to cry and told me that Billy’s dad had left her because he did not want to raise a special needs kid, and that most men never paid any attention to her son and she threw her arms around me and said “thanks for being a friend to my Billy.”

After they left, I thought about what had happened. I had to be honest enough to admit to myself that at first I was a little annoyed that this kid was stealing my down time. But as I reflected on this encounter, I realized that while I have re-discovered lost friends by way of the internet, there are lonely, hurting people all around us begging for a friend. I’m glad that I got to meet Billy today, because not only did I meet a new friend, I was reminded that while it is great to keep up with old friends by way of the internet, we cannot allow ourselves to neglect the importance of being a face to face friend with someone right in our own back yards. I often preach about the importance of building a relationship with Christ, but we must also build relationships with other people. This is how the Kingdom of God is advanced on this earth. We were all created with an incredible need to connect with someone else. It is one of the great needs in all of our lives.

I'd like to reinterate that the Internet is a wonderful, awesome tool, but I want to caution everyone to never let it take the place of being a face to face friend to someone who needs to see Jesus.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this today, Darrell. How many people do I know that need someone to just take the time and be a friend? They may not have Down's Syndrome, but they have a need just the same.

This reminds me of what I've often tried to instill in the teenagers I've worked with over the years, now in a cyber world more than ever. So many people are hurting that we simply run past while trying to net the "big fish", the popular kids, those with "clout". These hurting kids have their arms outstretched just hoping that someone takes the time to talk with them.

Thanks for giving me a swift kick to remind me.

Amy said...

wow!!This really touched my heart!! , it made me think of how special my friends are , and how special a child can be.And I pray that God would use me to show the love of Jesus to a lost hurting soul , Thanks for posting this!

Libby said...

It made me cry. I hope you get a chance to visit with Billy again.

ruthrap said...

How thoughtful of you to spend time with that boy..I'm sure you made his day..and mom's also. I am always looking for people who look like they need a friend..that's how I became acquainted with Carolyn. I haven't seen her for a while, but I keep a lookout for her everyday at the store.

Rev. Mark Jones said...

talk about the God Moment-man there's no denying that the Lord set that appointment. I'm so glad you were listening Darrell...and your story really reminds me to get out from behind the computer and into the mix more. God has those things for us on every corner but we've got to be out there on the front lines. What a cool story!

Gretchen said...

Wow. Sounds like you were lucky to meet Billy. What a wonderful story and very well written:-)
Gretchen Lavender

Deborha's Palm Tree said...

Special need for a special needs child? That is a God thing, divine appt? Hmmm? Endearing story Pastor. Thanx!